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California Signs Mask Agreement: Live Market Updates

Asian markets mingled as investors took stock of the outbreak.

Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday as investors paused after a two-day rally to assess the world’s response to the corona virus outbreak.

Shares in Japan, South Korea, and Australia rose until noon, but markets in China and Hong Kong fell slightly. Futures for American and European markets indicated that they would open up higher.

In the past two days, investors had found consolation in signs that the outbreak is peaking in some of the most affected parts of the US and Europe. On Wednesday, China lifted its hold on the city of Wuhan, where the virus first appeared, as another sign of progress.

However, the markets remain fragile. Japan and South Korea, along with other countries, have prepared major economic bailouts this week. However, freezing economic activity through efforts to contain viruses over months and years could have negative effects and require even more economic incentives from the world’s leading politicians.

Given this skepticism, prices for US government bonds, a traditional safe haven for investment, were largely higher in Asian trading on Wednesday. On a positive note, oil prices on the futures markets have risen, also in the hope that large producing countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia could eliminate their differences.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Index rose 2.1 percent. On the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.3 percent. The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index fell 0.7 percent. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.7 percent.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said late Tuesday that the state had secured nearly 200 million masks per month for California healthcare workers, an exceptional amount the severe lack of masks, even though his office had few details about how he managed such a deal.

A spokesman for Mr. Newsom said the state would buy the masks from foreign manufacturers in two separate contracts with a California nonprofit and a California company. The spokesman declined to name the nonprofit and the company, declined to say which companies made the masks, and declined to disclose the price California would pay.

The demand for masks has far outstripped supply in recent weeks, driving prices up ten times higher than before the pandemic.

Mr Newsom said the state had previously bought smaller amounts on a case-by-case basis but decided to pool its resources for larger businesses.

“We chose the little ball enough,” he said. he said on MSNBC on Tuesday. “Let’s use our purchasing power. Let us scale.”

He said the deal would include approximately 150 million N95 masks per month, the top-line masks that medical workers need for coronavirus patients. In comparison, the federal government announced last month that it had signed contracts to purchase 600 million N95 masks over an 18-month period.

California is also purchasing a machine that can clean nearly 2.5 million N95 masks for reuse each month, Newsom spokesman said. The masks should arrive in the next few weeks, he said.

South Korea announced a new 36 trillion won or $ 29.5 billion stimulus package on Wednesday to protect its export-driven economy from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new package complements a series of more than $ 80 billion of economic bailouts that South Korea has announced in recent weeks to support its troubled economy and help the hardest hit self-employed and small and medium-sized businesses .

The package announced on Wednesday will be offered in the form of cheap loans for the country’s exporters.

At an emergency meeting of high-level economic policy makers, President Moon Jae-in said his government had also devised new measures worth 17.7 trillion won or about $ 14.5 billion to boost domestic consumption. He didn’t provide any details.

“The global economy is drawn into a severe depression, and as a result, our economy, which is highly dependent on external conditions, is subject to a tsunami-like shock,” said Moon. “This is a tunnel, the end of which we cannot yet see.”

Mr. Moon unveiled the new stimulus package when the political parties in South Korea fought for an important parliamentary election next Wednesday. His ruling Democratic Party once appeared to be facing a tough campaign when Mr. Moon’s diplomacy with North Korea remained stuck and dissatisfaction with a slowing economy deepened.

But the approval rates of Mr. Moon and his party have increased in the past few weeks when South Korea has been praised by other nations for effectively dealing with the epidemic.

South Korea has aggressively used test kits and other disease control resources to isolate patients and contain the virus. The number of new cases, which once stood at 813 on February 29, has dropped to around 50 in the last three days. The country had registered a total of 10,384 coronavirus cases with 200 deaths at midnight on Tuesday.

The rally on Wall Street is bubbling.

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